Fans reacted to The UK Sun’s use of two tasteless puns in a photo caption accompanying its report on former Barcelona soccer manager Tito Vilanova’s resignation due to his ongoing battle with throat cancer.
The Sun’s July 20 article, “Utd Cesc Boost,” detailed how Vilanova’s departure would increase Manchester United’s chances of acquiring Spanish footballer Cesc Fabregas. The Sun claimed that United would capitalize on Barcelona’s instability by signing the star Catalan midfielder. Since the article has been published, Barcelona’s vice president and Fabregas’ teammates have denied that he’s leaving.
The Sun’s caption for a photo of the former Barcelona manager became controversial among football fans commenting on Twitter. They perceived the caption to be “gutter press” and “shameful.”
The wording of the caption, “TATA TITO…it’s Vilan-over for Barca boss,” seemed to make fun of Vilanova’s sudden resignation.
Tweets reacting to The Sun’s insensitivity about Vilanova’s illness included:
TATA TITO – This is what the Sun considers to be valid reporting of a Vilanova’s cancer. Make puns and find an angle. pic.twitter.com/dwd3fJKXZj
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) July 20, 2013
The Sun: “Tata Tito: Vilanova to stand down as Barca boss – boosting MUFC’s hopes of landing Fabregas”. The man has cancer. Gutter press.
— Jonny Anderson (@Jando__) July 22, 2013
Shameful from The Sun, using a manager’s illness as a way of spinning a transfer story http://t.co/je6hZyLenm
— Steven Gyford (@Stevie_Gyf) July 20, 2013
Jonathan Collett, Director of Communications at UK Press Complaints Commission, told iMediaEthics that the PCC has not received any complaints.
iMediaEthics called The Sun for a response to criticism of the caption. A member of the newsroom staff thanked iMediaEthics for contacting them and directed us to The Sun’s publisher News UK. We’ll update with any response from News UK.
iMediaEthics has covered The Sun’s missteps before in its reports about English soccer. iMediaEthics has published eight articles in the past few years about The Sun’s errors in its reporting on English soccer.
In October 2011, The Sun apologized for falsely claiming that Manchester United player Tom Cleverly had “repeatedly badgered [a woman] for sex.” And in February 2012, The Sun retracted a bogus story about Preston North End manager Graham Westley texting his players “to prepare for a 9/11 style terror attack.”